Founding use of videoconferencing takes children’s healing back to the home
Belfast, and Staines, UK, 9th December 2003 – The Pediatric Cardiology Department of the Belfast Royal Group of Hospitals has today announced details of a founding telemedicine project which will use videoconferencing for remote home-monitoring of pediatric cardiac patients throughout Northern Ireland. The young patients involved in the project, most of whom are toddlers or babies, will have a videoconferencing system installed at their home and will be regularly monitored by the specialist pediatric cardiology team on a similar system in the cardiology department itself. The project is designed to help young patients return to health by recovering in the warm, loving and familiar environment of their own homes while still receiving regular access to the expert knowledge of the hospital’s pediatric team.
Developed in conjunction with videoconferencing vendor TANDBERG, the project is being spearheaded by Dr Gareth Morgan, a specialist registrar at the Belfast Royal Group of Hospitals Pediatric Cardiology Department, the department responsible for pediatric cardiology throughout the whole of Northern Ireland. During its initial stages, three consultants and one research fellow in the Pediatric Cardiology Department will be involved in the initiative, which highlights the hospitals enviable existing reputation for undertaking innovative projects using telemedicine.
“Being responsible for pediatric cardiology for the whole of Northern Ireland puts quite a stretch on our facilities, and so enabling patients to return home as soon as is safe is very important,” Dr Morgan said. “Parents of children that have previously spent time in the hospital can get understandably anxious about their children’s health when they return home, and will regularly ring the department in instances of concern. When we take these calls, we often have no choice but to bring the patient to the hospital to check out the problem as soon as we can. This can mean the patients travelling long distances, over poor roads, at all times of the day or night. Often, the problem turns out to be relatively minor and not actually requiring hospital treatment. This continued problem led us to consider how we might be able to assess the children’s health accurately without having to bring them to the department itself, which in turn led us to videoconferencing.”
Monitoring physical symptoms such as the colour of a child’s lips and their breathing pattern, and taking data readings taken from such items as a child’s saturation monitor are recognised methods of checking the health of young cardiac patients. The visual access the videoconference brings may allow these remote assessments to be made regularly and accurately. Further applications in other departments throughout the hospital, including Neurology and Radiology, are also currently being trialed, and hospital officials are hopeful the success of these initial trials will see videoconferencing used on a more regular basis.
“Both the patients and their parents want their recovery to be at home for as long as possible, and the chance to allow this under the safe and watchful eye of our team is very exciting”, Dr Morgan continued. “Not only do these young children benefit from the relaxing and calming environment of home, but also from regular and visual access to medical knowledge – and when you live many miles from the hospital, that’s a real plus point.”
“Our initial observations are very positive, yet more importantly, the reaction from the patient side has been really encouraging. Parents seem very keen on involvement to cut out the unnecessary trips to the hospital and to have the security and comfort of the hospital’s pediatric team being just a video call away”.
“Telemedicine has been around for years now, however, it is only through recent technological advancements that practical and workable applications have really opened up for us. We need clear and reliable transmissions to ensure our expertise can be accurately and effectively administered, otherwise a project like this wouldn’t get off the ground. Fortunately the TANDBERG equipment may provide just that”, Dr Morgan concluded.
TANDBERG is a global leader in videoconferencing. The company designs and manufactures videoconferencing systems and offers sales, support and value-added services in more than 60 countries worldwide. TANDBERG has headquarters in Oslo, Norway and major offices in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, China and Japan. TANDBERG is publicly traded on the Oslo Stock Exchange under the ticker TAA (www.tandberg.net)
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